How To Organize A Small Kitchen

 How To Organize A Small Kitchen


Living in a small apartment, tiny house, or studio space can be a challenge when it comes to finding space. However, if you are smart with the way you organize your small kitchen, you can create a space that feels roomy enough to cook, eat, and comfortably exchange stories from your day, regardless of physical dimensions.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Moving into a tiny house 10 years ago taught me that less truly can be more. I have found that being strategic and intentional with the way I organize my home has made even my small space feel roomy.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Simple Steps To Start Organizing Your Small Kitchen

Steps To Start Organizing Your Small Kitchen

In a small kitchen, it’s pretty easy for things to get extremely messy quickly, especially if you do a lot of cooking at home. I’ve learned a lot over the years about organizing a small space in a way that still allows you to live a comfortable life.

small kitchen organizationWhen it comes to organizing your small kitchen, the goal is to create a layout that allows you enough room to lay out everything you need to cook meals as well as enough space to dine with loved ones and enjoy their company.

No matter how much work I have on my plate at the end of the day, I make an intentional effort to cook a nice meal each night as a way to wind down. Less is more when it comes to organizing a small kitchen and creating a roomy space to enjoy the company of your loved ones.

Step One: Count, Measure, and Sort Items In Your Small Kitchen

Count Measure and Sort Items In Your Small Kitchen

The only way to organize your small kitchen in a way that accentuates your life is to know how much stuff you’re working with and how much space you have.

It’s easy to be overly ambitious with the number of things you foresee fitting in your space, as well as forget about containers, wedding china, or glassware you have hidden in the backs of kitchen cabinets.

measure kitchen cabinetsGrab a tape measure and actually take the time to measure your space. It may seem unnecessary, but executing this step first is essential in being efficient as you organize. Write down the dimensions of your room and keep them top of mind as you plan the layout of your small kitchen space.

Additionally, choose one main location to be your dumping ground and go to town taking everything out of the nooks and crannies in your small kitchen. Don’t forget about the very backs of shelves, space above your cabinets, or inside kitchen drawers.

Clear out your entire small kitchen and pile all the stuff into your central dumping ground area to physically see what you’re preparing to sort.

Step Two: Declutter Dishes And Utensils In Your Small Kitchen

Declutter Dishes And Utensils In Your Small Kitchen

Before you can organize, you need to purge all of those extra dishes, kitchen utensils, and cookware that you don’t use in your daily life. The decluttering process is an entirely different ballgame that I talk about in other posts, but I want to note the importance of tackling this step before you try to organize your small kitchen.

There are many effective methods that work great for decluttering a small kitchen. Personally, I enjoy the Four Box Decluttering Method because I feel like it maximizes efficiency within the decluttering process. However, there are many ways to decipher what to declutter and choose which pans, trivets, trays, and equipment to discard and which are truly worth keeping around.

decluttered kitchen

Step Three: Assess Your Small Kitchen To Plan An Effective Layout

Assess Your Small Kitchen To Plan An Effective Layout

Honestly, I had a ton of fun planning my tiny house kitchen layout because I allowed myself to be creative and dream about the design of my space, while also being realistic with the amount of room I actually had.The ultimate secret to organizing a small kitchen effectively isn’t necessarily militant sorting methods or extreme minimalism.

ryans tiny house kitchenEffective small kitchen organization comes down to intelligent planning within the space you are working with.

Obviously, there are some items in a small kitchen that cannot be moved to maximize space. Your fridge needs to be in front of its dedicated circuit. Your countertops and oven are likely wall mounted.

These kinds of fixtures aren’t practical to change. You’ll need to plan your small kitchen organization around the items that can or cannot be moved to accommodate your needs.

tiny house kitchens

Step Four: Clear The Center Of Your Kitchen To Maximize Space

Clear The Center Of Your Kitchen To Maximize Space

Once you’ve taken into account what can or cannot be moved, it’s time to actually to create a layout that works for you. To make the most of your space, you want to keep the center of your small kitchen as open as possible.

Doing this will make your kitchen feel more spacious, even when it has small dimensions. Consider options like tacking the dining area onto to the end of your counters or using a bar as the primary dining space. Remove kitchen islands or any other furniture that may sit in the center of your kitchen and disrupt the flow.

If you have control over this, consider placing your oven, sink, microwave, and pantry along the same adjacent wall. This will also make your small kitchen feel more spacious because it will section off the cooking and food prep section of your kitchen from where you and your family share meals.

optimized small kitchen floorplan

When you do this, it will not only create a physical separation between the cooking and dining areas, but a mental one. Your body will cling to one side of the kitchen when preparing food and another when enjoying it, signaling a divide to yourself and others, even if the actual dimensions are equal.

Step Five: Prioritize The Placement Of Your Daily Kitchen Essentials

Prioritize The Placement Of Your Daily Kitchen Essentials

You may need to make some spatial sacrifices when organizing your small kitchen, but don’t get rid of the items you need most. I’ve said this many times before, but I am a huge proponent that going tinier does not mean reducing the quality of your experience.

Applying this mantra to small kitchen organization means if you need a huge countertop to lay out all of your cooking materials, don’t feel that you have to force yourself to let that go to make more room.

kitchen coffee storageIf you’re super into coffee, don’t feel as if you have to cut your coffee station for the sake of space. You can use floating shelves to create a coffee bar on the side of a cabinet and keep up your love of espresso. If you’re a wine aficionado, you can integrate a hollow wine cabinet underneath your regular countertop instead of taking up extra space.

Take the time to think through the life habits you want to cultivate in your kitchen space and what you need to ensure you have room for to satisfy those habits. You will be happiest in a kitchen that supports your lifestyle and gives you the best of both worlds — one that maximizes space while also meeting your needs.

On the flip side of these decisions is what you’re going to cut back on in exchange to meet those needs. Too often people want it all, and in the end, they are left with something that doesn’t really work over the long term.

Saying yes to one thing means you need to say no to another in many cases when it comes to a small space.

Step Six: Sort Dishes, Utensils, And Cookware Into Categories

Sort Dishes Utensils And Cookware Into Categories

Organizing the stuff in your small kitchen is an entirely different ballgame than the layout of your space. I’ve found that the best way to categorize what you own is to sort your items by the specific purpose they serve.

This way, when you’re in a time crunch trying to quickly feed the kids dinner and get them out the door, you know exactly where to look to find your Instant Pot or favorite deep-dish pan. Kitchen organization categories include much more than just dishes and cookware — you keep a lot in your kitchen!

Helpful Categories Of Kitchen Items

Food Prep

  • Cutting Boards
  • Colander
  • Can Opener
  • Apple Cutter
  • Tongs


  • Pots and Pans
  • Bakeware
  • Measuring Cups
  • Whisks
  • Spatulas
  • Spices


  • Dish Soap
  • Bleach
  • Dish Towels
  • Sponges
  • Paper Towels
  • Microfiber Cloths


  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Glassware
  • Utensils

Food Storage

  • Plastic Ware
  • Paper Plates
  • Paper Cups
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Aluminum Foil


  • Candles
  • Decorations
  • Flower Vases
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Sticky Notes
  • Medications

categorizing your cupboard

Step Seven: Assign A New Home To Remaining Kitchen Items

Assign A New Home To Remaining Kitchen Items

Once you have all of your categories created, its time to organize your kitchen items in your small kitchen. Again, sort your items based on their purpose so that access is easy in a time of need.

organizing a small kitchen layout

Personally, I’ve found the best way to sort my kitchen items is to break them down into a few categories: consumables, non-consumables, cleaning, preparation, and cooking. Working within the confines of your own small kitchen, place items where it makes sense based on their purpose and category.

If you want to be even more stringent with your small kitchen organization, create one specific home not only for each kitchen item category, but every individual item. As for me, I tend to sort based on category and not give every single thing I own one particular place, but I know everyone has a different level of comfortability when it comes to organizing.

organizing a small kitchen details

Organization Guide For Each Room Of Your Home

home organization guide

Tips And Tricks For Organizing A Small Kitchen

Tips And Tricks For Organizing A Small Kitchen

When organizing a small kitchen, you want to make the most of every nook and cranny to keep your small kitchen feeling like home, despite its small size.

1Display Cookware For Easy Access In A Small Kitchen

Not every item in your small kitchen has to be hidden away in storage. It can be both efficient and aesthetically pleasing to let certain items be on display. You might consider putting items on display that match the overall color scheme of your kitchen, as well as items you use most often so you can get to them more quickly.
easy access to cookware

2Utilize Narrow Spaces Where Possible In Your Small Kitchen

With small kitchen organization, it’s imperative that you make the most of every single inch of space you’re allotted. One expert tip for making sure you do this is to make use of the narrow space on the sides of jutted out cabinets, your fridge, your oven, and any other large item in your space. You can use these narrow side spaces to hang dishes, stack cutting boards, hold measuring cups, or even add some floating shelves to stack spices.
utilize narrow spaces for storage in kitchen

3Don’t Neglect Your Small Kitchen Ceiling

Don’t neglect to consider the space that sits between the very top of your upper cabinets and the ceiling of kitchen. You can easily add cabinets, shelves, or another storage type to that foot of space. However, make sure that the items you store in this area aren’t ones you need to get to often, or you’ll find yourself climbing your counters way more often than makes sense.
kitchen ceiling storage

4Utilize Cabinet Bottoms In Your Small Kitchen

In my opinion, this is one of the most brilliant hacks for small kitchen storage out there. Just take some basic mason jars with metal lids and fill them with dry goods or other items you’d consider decanting, like pretzels, pasta, popcorn kernels, and more.

Then, install a magnetic knife strip underneath your upper kitchen cabinets. Attach the lids of your jars underneath your cabinet. This storage hack isn’t cumbersome at all, and allows you to access dry goods and cooking materials quickly without sacrificing space.

under wall cabinet storage

5Use Windowsills As Extra Storage

A mindset that’s always beneficial when organizing small spaces is considering what spaces may be completely unused, or areas of the room with untapped storage potential. A great example is your windowsill. Depending on where your windows are located in your kitchen, you can use them as storage for plants, spices and dry goods, or even dishes and other cooking utensils.
kitchen window sill space for storage

6Kitchen Countertops Are Not Meant For Storage

Oftentimes when people dive into kitchen organization, they go straight for countertop organizers or consider ways they can sort things on top of their kitchen counters. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that countertops are not meant to be used as storage. The more you can store out of sight, the more clean, spacious, and open your small kitchen is going to feel.

Hanging items from the walls or even storing items vertically on the sides of counters is better than shoving things onto your countertop surfaces. Using surface space as storage will just cause your small kitchen to feel crowded and messy.

clear kitchen countertop

Inspiration For Maximizing Space In A Small Kitchen

Inspiration For Maximizing Space In A Small Kitchen

I’ve tried many different techniques to make the most of my small kitchen in my own tiny house. There are many creative hacks you can employ to your kitchen to make it feel more spacious despite being smaller in size.

planning your pantry

Add Sliding Shelves To Your Kitchen Pantry

small kitchen pantry sliding shelves
One way to keep all of your food items as organized as possible in your small kitchen is to invest in wooden drawers to go on the inside of your pantry. I use drawers to keep my favorite spices, baking materials, and snacks organized for when I need them. Make sure to label your sliding shelves to find what you’re looking for as quickly as possible.

Use Plastic Drawers To Stay Organized

use plastic drawers under kitchen cabinets
An area that can easily become disorganized when you don’t have a ton of space is the area underneath your kitchen sink. I like to use that area to store all of my kitchen cleaning products, but all those cans and spray bottles can take up a ton of room. Try investing in plastic drawer organizers to keep the area under your sink in check.

Buy Desk Organizer For Pots, Pans, And Dishes

Pots, pans, and dishes can easily become a junk pit in your cabinets no matter how hard you try to keep them sorted by category. One trick I learned from a friend is to use a top of desk organizer to keep your dishes and pots separated. This keeps them visible and easily accessible.

cabinet organizer for pots and pans
use a desk organizer for pots and pans

Use Shelf Dividers To Sort Tupperware, Pots, and Pans

Shelf dividers are a common go-to for things like papers, books, or office supplies, but have you ever considered using shelf dividers to keep your pots, pans, or Tupperware lids separated?

I hate the feeling of not being able to find my favorite egg pan because it’s buried at the bottom of a pile of dishes, or not being able to find the correct Tupperware lid when I’m in a hurry. Dividers keep your dishes separate, visible, and in an easy to reach spot when you’re in a pinch.

shelf divider for organizing pans
use shelf divider for organizing lids

Hang Your Dishes On Tension Rods For Easy Access

Tensions rods can be lifesavers in a small kitchen because they allow you to use the entire volume of a cabinet and not just the surface of the shelf. Consider hanging mugs, pots, pans, or measuring cups from tension rods. You can add tension rods to your walls or the inside of your kitchen cabinets.

hang cups on tension rods
hang pots and pans on bars

Use Plastic Bins To Sort Tea or K-Cups

Plastic Bins To Sort Tea
Smaller items can be clutter culprits in a tiny kitchen. Things like tea bags, sugar packets, plastic cutlery, extra takeout sauces, or K-cups can easily be stored in plastic tupperware to keep them visible yet easy to grab and go.

Set Dry Goods On A Wooden Display Stand

dry goods on a wooden display shelf
I love using stands with space underneath for organization purposes because they serve a dual purpose. Wooden displays are awesome for displaying decanted jars of dry goods. You can maximize counter space with these stands by using the top of the stand as well as the hollow space beneath it.

Buy An Over The Door Hanging Rack

Over The Door Hanging Rack
Over-the-door storage racks are always recommended for bedroom organization, but they can also work wonders in a small kitchen. Throw a back-of-the-door organizer over your kitchen cabinet door or on the back of the space underneath your sink. You can use this rack to store cutting boards, cleaning products, and much more.

Invest In A Pegboard To Hang Your Extra Dishes

Hang Extra Dishes on Pegboard
People often use pegboards for organizing supplies in a craft room or tools in a garage, but pegboards certainly have their place in a kitchen as well. Use a pegboard to display items you use most frequently, like cutting boards, spatulas, knifes, measuring cups, and more.

Use Doorknobs To Hang Cutting Boards

hang cutting boards on cabinet knobs
I am a huge fan of repurposed items, which is why I love the idea of using old doorknobs to hang cookware, cutting boards, colanders, or other daily kitchen essentials. You can install these doorknobs on a flat vertical surface like the side of the cabinet to keep your items within your reach while you’re cooking.

Store Your Favorite Spices In A Lazy Susan

store spices in a lazy susanv
The Lazy Susan is endlessly useful for skincare products, medication, and craft supplies, but one of my favorite ways to use them is for baking supplies. They maximize space and spin around smoothly for easy access to things like spices, herbs, salt, sugar, food coloring, or other baking and cooking supplies.

Use Drawer Dividers For Utensils And More

use drawer dividers to organize utensils
Drawer dividers are a necessity to keep your kitchen drawers from becoming cluttered chaos. Whether you use them to sort silverware, Tupperware, cookware, or other kitchen utensils, dividers keep things separated and tidy.

Minimalists Checklist When Organizing A Small Kitchen

Minimalists Checklist When Organizing A Small Kitchen
Organizing your small kitchen in a way that gives everything a place of its own will make things so much easier when it’s time to cook dinner. You’ll be able to find what you need quickly to cook a scrumptious meal for your loved ones.


Sort Items In Your Kitchen

  • Sort items by category
  • Make a pile of kitchen utensils
  • Make a pile of dishes, pots, pans
  • Discard items you don’t use
  • Set aside items you use most
  • Sort food, drink, consumables

Place Items Where They Belong

  • Ask: What location fits this item best?
  • Keep cookware together
  • Place consumables in pantry
  • Find home for non-consumables
  • Organize kitchen cleaning products
  • Store items by their purpose

Design Your Small Kitchen

  • Layout your small kitchen
  • Observe what can’t be moved
  • Clear the center of kitchen
  • Display items along wall space
  • Store items on sides of cabinets
  • Use space above cabinets

Small Kitchen Organizations

  • Display items used most
  • Hide items used least
  • Put fine china and valuables out of reach
  • Keep to-go cups accessible
  • Countertops aren’t storage
  • Don’t force things to fit

Your Turn!

  • What products will you use to keep your small kitchen organized?
  • What steps will you take today to maximize space in your tiny kitchen?

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